A budget meeting of Longford Town Council last Wednesday, heard that while there is a financial shortfall to the third quarter of this financial year, management at the local authority remains confident that the books will balance out by year end with rates collections and parking charges.
Reassurances were also given that minor road works and salting measures would be provided for despite the fact that major infrastructural works to St Mel’s Road were but on the back burner earlier this year.
And with $5,521,607 of a $7m yearly allocation already spent, the meeting heard that there will be a major push on in the coming weeks to collect outstanding rents and rates, owed to Longford Town Council.
“$892,592 has been spent on housing and building to date; so there is a short fall there, however I am confident that the situation will balance itself out by the end of the year,” Mark McNerney told the meeting. “There is a budget of $7m for the year and approximately $1.5m of that is payroll which includes wages, salaries and pension contributions. With regards to environmental services $329,024 has been spent; street cleaning is a very important service and we are providing that service at the moment. However, we had difficulties in respect of this because of the cost of fuel – the cleaner has two engines so it was costly, but we have addressed that matter now. The council owns the machine at this stage, so there are no monies owed there.”
To date, over $1m has been spent by Longford Town Council in the area of road transportation and safety, while $25,218 was allocated for the water services division; a further $331,502 on development management costs; $270,394 on recreation and amenity and $174,012 on central management charges.
“I am not as concerned about the budget as I was,” Mr McNerney continued. “We had to do something because the reality is that you can’t spend money that you don’t have; so we put the breaks on expenditure. We also know that rates collection will be a challenge; it is very difficult to collect rates at the moment, but we have to try and collect whatever money we can. We have to live within our means and will make every effort to collect any income that we can. There is a gap in the finances at the end of the third quarter of this year, but I am confident at this stage that we can close that gap by the end of this year.”
The meeting then heard that the main area of concern for Longford Town Council this year was in the area of rates collection. “It is the biggest area of concern at this stage,” said Mr McNerney. “There are a number of business, who traditionally, make payments at the end of the year and there is also a need for us to become more flexible with payments; so we are trying to deal with that at the moment. One of the main incomes came from parking charges and so far this year, we have taken in $644,524 in that area.”